Men's Basketball: There's no denying UL-Georgia State rivalry + Kevin Foote's Top 5 UL Teams
Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, Feb. 6, 2018
UL coach Bob Marlin tried his best at Monday’s weekly press luncheon to downplay how heated the men’s basketball rivalry with Georgia State has become over the years .
To set the tone, we’ll pacify him with one cliché quote, because there is a bit of truth in it.
“It’s the biggest because it’s the next one,” Marlin said. “Every one (series) is big. We continue to take it one game at a time. It’s the next game on the schedule, so it’s big, yes.”
There were other times, though, where he gave insight into how fun this rivalry is.
The truth is, there’s no running from it.
And trust me, neither side has any plans on dodging each other when the two teams square off Thursday in Atlanta.
“It’s a good rivalry,” Marlin admitted. “Coach (Ron) Hunter’s done a good job with his team.
“Their fans don’t like us, although they do cheer for me when I walk in the gym … not in a nice way, but they will be chanting my name as I take the court, I’m sure.”
Marlin not giving much quarter to the rivalry angle is likely because there is a serious side to the business side of this matchup.
The Cajuns are 20-3 overall and 10-0 in league play, while Georgia State is 18-6 overall and 9-2 in Sun Belt play. If the Panthers win, they’ll officially be breathing down UL’s neck … no matter how dominant UL’s been to this point.
UL’s won 10 games in a row. Georgia State’s won nine in a row.
The scene is indeed set for quite a showdown. The emotions figure to be high … as they typically are in this matchup.
The shame of the matter is that it’s being played in Atlanta, where the Panthers rarely exceed 2,000 fans. The only game that has so far this season was Georgia Southern at 3,854.
But it would have likely been a raucous, rowdy crowd at the Cajundome if it was UL’s turn to host in this series.
It’s not a series with a long history. Other than a few random games 12 or 13 years ago, it began in 2014, and the intensity wasted no time escalating.
Last year, Georgia State won all three games. Anyone attending the Sun Belt Tournament game in New Orleans didn’t need a microscope to detect the animosity between the coaches or the teams.
Marlin declined to comment on how UL’s newcomers are handling this rivalry, but I’m sure they noticed it last March. Neither side did a very good job of hiding it.
Hunter’s been known to avoid saying UL’s name when referring to the Cajuns in interviews or press conferences. Likewise, the fans here love to give Hunter a harder time than any other visiting coach.
Truthfully, it’s just great stuff and something UL athletics desperately needs to incite more fan engagement.
It kind of reminds me of the Billy Tubbs days, when the Cajuns and Lamar used to battle in the late 1970s.
The Cajuns are on fire, even getting votes in national polls. Every one of their 10 Sun Belt wins has been by double figures.
Of course, the Panthers would love nothing more than to derail Marlin’s runaway train.
And none of the Cajuns’ 21 wins would feel any sweeter.
Georgia State 77, UL 70 (Home)
Georgia State 80, UL 77 (Away)
UL 82, Georgia St. 81-OT (SBC)
UL 84, Georgia St. 80 (H)
Georgia St. 75, UL 64 (A)
Georgia St. 83, UL 79 (SBC)
UL 87, Georgia St. 54 (A)
Georgia St. 72, UL 69 (H)
Georgia St. 101, UL 86 (H)
Georgia St. 85, UL 82 (A)
Georgia St. 86, UL 76 (SBC)